There’s a problem that no one predicted: synthetic marijuana is killing American soldiers. Our troops, they like to vape. And why not?
The men and women of the United States military cannot smoke marijuana. And running into a combat situation burdened with enough gear to stock a Bass Pro Shop while nursing a brutal hangover is no way to go. So the troops, they vape.
In some cases, soldiers vape fake marijuana—that is, synthetic cannabinoids.
This synthetic marijuana habit is literally killing them. And it’s killing them in numbers that mean vape is just about as deadly to the troops as ISIS.
The Army’s Deadly Vape Problem Is Worse Than ISIS
Since January, more than 90 soldiers and Marines have been treated for “serious medical issues” after using vape or e-cigarette products “marketed as containing cannabidiol, or CBD, oil,” according to the Star News.
Emergency rooms at military bases in North Carolina and Utah have treated servicemembers reporting “headaches, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, dilated pupils and dizziness to confusion, disorientation, agitation and seizures,” according to a public-health alert issued by the Army on Monday.
All these symptoms, the military noted, are consistent with the use of “synthetic cannabinoids,” or “fake marijuana.”
Fake marijuana is the bizarre and random chemical cocktails sprayed on random plant material and sold over-the-counter as a “legal high.”
So far, seizures related to the use of fake weed-related have led to the deaths of at least two Marines. Another soldier has suffered “significant neurologic damage,” according to the Army.
Let’s compare this problem to the death toll wrought by the sinister threat posed by ISIS. As of 2016, ISIS was responsible for the deaths of exactly three U.S. soldiers. Yes: Fake weed almost as bad as ISIS.
“Public Health Threat,” Origins Unknown
Military brass considers this sudden and violent surge of hospitalizations “an emerging public health threat.” Handling it is now “a top priority,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Public Health Center told reporters this week.
It’s not clear where the soldiers and Marines obtained the deadly vape oils.
Civilian hospitals have not seen a similar spike in emergency room visits, as per the Star News.
Military personnel know cannabis is strictly prohibited. In the wake of this current health crisis, officials have since clarified that this prohibition also extends to synthetic weed, including concoctions that contain or claim to contain only CBD.
Many merchants offer CBD under the pretense that it’s hemp-based and therefore not subject to the federal government’s blanket ban on marijuana. That’s wrong. The DEA recently stated that it considers CBD banned as well.
In any event, the tragic irony here is obvious.
If the troops were smoking actual weed, none of this would have happened.
The Deadly Irony of Synthetic Weed
Fake weed is nothing more than random collections of plant material adulterated with chemical cocktails. Packets of the stuff are often advertised as “herbal smoke blends.” Familiar brand names include “K2” and “Spice.”
The perils of putting shit like this in your body are well documented.
In 2016, a particularly foul batch sent 33 people to the hospital in Brooklyn, with symptoms best described as “zombie-like.”
Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots football player convicted of murder, allegedly used synthetic cannabis prior to his suicide.
By every metric, synthetic cannabis is dangerous. It is bad. You should not use it.
Meanwhile, marijuana is not a dangerous drug. At worst, cannabis is relatively benign. Neither medicine nor science has recorded a single death attributed solely to cannabis use.
Compare that to the 480,000 Americans killed annually by tobacco use, the 76,000 killed by excessive alcohol, and the 60,000 a year who die now because of opiates.
By every metric—like the one doctors use to gauge the threat posed by all the various things humans put in their bodies to get a rise—cannabis is safer.
Final Hit: Synthetic Marijuana Is Killing American Soldiers
Cannabis may be safer, but it’s illegal. Consuming it or doing other things like making hash out of it can still cost you your job and your housing. If you’re a member of the U.S. military, cannabis can lead to a dishonorable discharge and the loss of the opportunities for education and a viable career that made signing up so attractive in the first place. So U.S. servicemembers are turning to the other available substances, all of which are deadly—and none more acutely so than synthetic cannabinoids.